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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 19:47 GMT
Dons sink champions
Stilian Petrov (left) and Alan Thompson of Celtic
Stilian Petrov is hit with a snowball at Pittodrie
Aberdeen 2-0 Celtic

Aberdeen stretched their winning sequence at Pittodrie to nine games with a battling win over the SPL champions.

A Robbie Winters penalty and a late goal from substitute Darren Mackie gave Ebbe Skovdahl an early christmas present and their first win over the Hoops in three years.

As expected the icy conditions were making it increasingly difficult for the players to stay on their feet. But the home side were coping better and almost took the lead in the 11th minute.

Eugene Dadi left Bobo Balde with a clever turn after Jamie McAllister's pass and he pulled the ball back to Robbie Winters, whose shot was blocked by Valgaeren.

The ball then came back to Derek Young on the edge of the box, but this time Johan Mjallby deflected it for a corner.

Celtic got stronger as the half wore on and they almost broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.

Celtic's Neil Lennon (left) and Russell Anderson of Aberdeen
Anderson looks on as Lennon is grounded

Hartson found the overlapping Petrov and the Bulgarian pulled the ball across the face of goal, but it was inches ahead of the outstretched boot of Sutton.

Moments later, the game was stopped for several minutes after Thompson and Petrov were bombarded with snowballs by Dons fans, forcing the referee to call in police protection.

When play resumed, Celtic were fortunate not to go behind on the half-hour after a catastrophic blunder by Celtic goalkeeper Robert Douglas.

Robbie Winters hit a weak right-foot shot from 20-yards out and Douglas took his eye off the ball and allowed it to squirm through his grasp and just wide of the upright.

Thompson then saved his side in the 35th minute when Young's turn left Valagaeren left for dead, but just as he was ready to pull the trigger the former Aston Villa midfielder slid in to stop Young in his tracks.

Sutton was fortunate to remain on the pitch just before the interval, after swinging an elbow at Roberto Bisconti, who was also shown the yellow card for initially pulling the Englishman's shirt.

Celtic's Stilian Petrov
Petrov takes a tumble in the Aberdeen box

Douglas made amends for his earlier scare just two minutes after the restart to deny Aberdeen the first goal.

Winters headed down Young's cross into the path of Dadi, but he failed to get enough power on the shot and the goalkeeper saved.

Larsson replied with a fierce shot into the side-netting, but the visitors look rattled for the first time in the SPL this season.

The home side continued to push Celtic back and got their just rewards on the hour mark, when Hartson handled the ball in the box, after a Winters corner.

The Aberdeen striker stepped up to score his tenth of the season from the spot.

Aberdeen were reduced to ten men five minutes from time, when skipper Derek Whyte was dismissed for a second bookable offence, after referee Stuart Dougal had consulted with his linesman.

Celtic piled on the pressure in an attempt to get the equaliser, with Balde sending a header over the bar from a teasing Petta cross.

The Dons breathed a sigh of relief with three minutes remaining when Kjaer first saved Larsson's shot and then McAllister headed Thompson's follow-up off the line.

But Aberdeen sealed their victory in injury time when Douglas made a hash as he failed to control Valgaeren's back pass and was dispossessed by Darren Mackie who smashed home from close range.

Aberdeen: Kjaer, Anderson, McGuire, Whyte, McAllister, Guntveit, Darren Young, Bisconti, Winters, Dadi, Derek Young. Subs: Esson, Solberg, Zerouali, Thornley, Mackie.

Celtic: Douglas, Balde, Mjallby, Valgaeren, Petrov, Lennon, Lambert, Thompson, Larsson, Sutton, Hartson. Subs: Gould, McNamara, Petta, Maloney, Crainey.

Referee: S Dougal

BBC Scotland's Alastair Alexander
"Ten man Aberdeen triumph over Celtic, for excitement, drama, passion, you couldn't beat this"
Aberdeen manager Ebbe Skovdahl
"We are all very, very happy and pleased with the result"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"We were unable to take any of our chances"
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